Care home residents hold cocktail party

Margot Cameron, 95, enjoys her cocktail at Cluny Care Home. Picture: Jane Barlow
Margot Cameron, 95, enjoys her cocktail at Cluny Care Home. Picture: Jane Barlow
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It’s a recipe for happiness that comes served up with a dash of nostalgia, a slice of jazz and a bit of a twist.

While they might prefer a small glass of sherry to Sex on the Beach, the residents of a Capital care home have been mixing it up with a cocktail party designed to help them roll back the years.

The boozy treat was put on by Damien Higgins, owner of Glasgow-based Social and Cocktail Events, a company which usually caters for weddings, hen nights and corporate dos.

After deciding he wanted “to give something back to the community” rather than make a donation to charity, Mr Higgins has offered his expertise, a mobile cocktail bar, glassware and snacks – as well as up to £400 of booze a time – to run monthly cocktail parties at care homes.

One of the first to place their orders at the event on Friday afternoon at Cluny Lodge care home was Dr Austen 
Gardiner, 82, a retired GP from Aberdeen.

“I think this is a super idea,” he said. “People are talking to each other and listening to jazz. Some people in Scotland can be a bit sniffy about drink but you just have to take it on the chin.”

Margot Cameron, 94, who was recruited to work at Bletchley Park during the Second World War after graduating in French and German from St Andrews University, ordered a Strawberry Daiquiri but said she had her eye on a Brandy Alexander, the drink which was the most popular at Mr Higgins’ first venture at Erskine, the war veterans home, in Bishopton a few months ago.

“I’ve never been involved in this kind of thing before, but I think it’s a good idea,” she said as barman Joshua O’Connor gave a demonstration on how to mix cocktails from a Dry Martini or Mojito to a White Russian or a Shirley Temple.

Mr Higgins said: “We try to make it as authentic as possible and bring decorations and a menu explaining what the drinks are and the history of cocktails. People can have as many drinks as they want. We take our steer from the management who’ll tell us if someone is only allowed non-alcoholic cocktails.”

Marion Durie, head of social and leisure at Cluny and nearby sister home, Chamberlain, said: “The party and all the activities we run such as visits to the cinema and theatre give people dignity and respect and show that life if worth living.

“They may be getting older but inside they are still the same young men or women they once were. They will have a ‘happy hangover’ tomorrow but feel lifted and happy.”

A spokesman for Age Scotland said: “Every person in a residential facility deserves to live in an environment that is not only safe and comfortable but provides care and respects their dignity. Part of that is providing ways to engage residents with varied activities, which this certainly does. It is wider than just quality of care, it is about quality of life.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com